State commits to childcare, now Feds must cough up!
Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, has welcomed the State Government’s commitment to permanently restore its share of the Take a Break (TAB) occasional Childcare program funding if the Federal Government reverses its 2010 decision to withdraw its contribution.
Mr Bull said childcare funding was primarily a Federal responsibility.
“The Take a Break program was an example of the State working co-operatively with the Commonwealth to deliver a service to families and was originally funded on a 70 percent Commonwealth, 30 percent State basis.
“However, in its May 2010 Budget, the Federal Labor scrapped funding for the TAB program, which meant services were due to cease on 30 June, 2010.
“As this did not allow enough time for services or families to adjust, the then Victorian Government agreed to fund the Federal share for one year until 30 June 2011. This was a one-off commitment and the former government made it clear that the funding was for one year only.
“Upon its election, the Baillieu Government formally requested the Gillard Labor Government to reinstate funding, as the program could not be sustained on State funding alone on an ongoing basis.
“Unfortunately the Federal Minister failed to respond to Victoria’s request, and the 2011-12 Federal Budget failed to reinstate the program.
This has a significant impact on a number of childcare facilities in East Gippsland. I have had strong representation from the Tambo Valley and Paynesville in particular.
“To give some certainty, this State Government agreed to extend TAB funding until the end of this calendar year. It has now laid the offer on the table of contributing its original 30 percent share if the Federal Government meets its commitment.
“However, the State cannot be expected to take over the Federal Government’s funding responsibility on an ongoing basis when it is primarily their responsibility.
“I know my Federal colleague Darren Chester has raised this continually and will keep the pressure on the Gillard Government to reinstate this funding.
“I encourage all those families and communities affected by the changes to this occasional childcare program to raise their concerns directly with the Gillard Labor government and to return its funding to this childcare program,” Mr Bull said.
$1.27 million to save forest contractor jobs
The employment of East Gippsland forest contractors facing an uncertain future has been addressed by a $1.27 million Coalition Government program to restore and improve degraded forest areas. Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said the new funding announcement was a major win for harvest and haulage contractors.
“These contractors were facing unemployment as a result of Labor’s 2009 decision to convert 45,000 hectares of forest into new and expanded parks and reserves,” Mr Bull said.
“It promised no net job losses would result, but that was simply not the case.
Mr Bull said the decision was the result of months of lobbying on behalf of experienced local foresters.
“The funding will enable contracting of local forestry workers to manage a forest restoration and improvement program,” Mr Bull said.
“The program will increase the productive capacity of low yielding and degraded forests in the region.
“By undertaking silvicultural thinnings and other improvements, targeted areas will experience improved growth of trees and timber for future commercial harvesting.
“This is a clear sign of the Coalition Government’s commitment to forest jobs and a long-term sustainable timber industry for East Gippsland.”
Mr Bull said the decision would restore the confidence of local timber workers and their families which had been jeopardised by the actions of the former Labor Government.
“Labor sold out local forest workers when it locked up more areas of what was productive forest,” Mr Bull said.
“East Gippsland would have suffered economically and socially from Labor’s policies, but the Coalition Government has stepped in to support the region.
“VicForests is finalising the current harvest and haulage tender process at the moment and once that is finalised will work directly with local contractors who may have the capacity and willingness to contribute to this new program,” Mr Bull said.
Mr Bull thanked Parliamentary Secretary for Forestry and Fisheries, Gary Blackwood and Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, Peter Walsh for their work in supporting this new program in East Gippsland.
Bull welcomes whiting study
The Coalition Government has allocated over $1 million from funds raised through the sale of recreational fishing licences to various projects, including $186,000 over three years to determine the spawning sources, movement patterns and nursery area replenishment of King George whiting in south east Australia.
It is one of a host of initiatives state-wide to boost recreational fishing opportunities across the state and gain a better insight into key recreational species.
“Fishing is extremely popular throughout East Gippsland and this extra funding will further support local businesses that rely on the continued growth of this recreational activity,” said Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull.
“The Coalition Government is returning all money raised from recreational fishing licence fees to the industry for infrastructure projects, restocking and education programs and is in addition to the $16.2 million investment the Coalition Government made in this year’s State Budget to improve opportunities for Victorian recreational fishers,” Mr Bull said.
Other projects allocated funding under this year’s round of large grants include:
$130,910 over three years to assess and inform the future management of Victoria's short fin mako shark recreational fishery.
$34,000 over two years to install a further 40 'Seal the loop' recreational fishing line disposal bins around Victoria.
“In addition, another $228,000, over two years, will be earmarked for recreational fisheries communication products, involving the large scale production and distribution of a range of products that help recreational anglers better understand and voluntarily adopt good fishing practices and comply with fishing rules.
“This includes 300,000 copies of the 2011-12 Recreational Fishing Guide, 100,000 fish length rulers, 3000 abalone, rock lobster and spiny crayfish measures, 200 metal fish length rulers, and 17,000 'Know your (fish) limits' pocket cards in four different languages,” Mr Bull said.
Rebates for those who save on water
The Victorian Coalition Government will boost rebates on water-efficient products, making them available to all households from July 1, with up to $1,000 being available towards the installation of rainwater tanks, said Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull.
“The Coalition Government was delivering on a key election commitment by doubling funding for rebates on water-efficient products to $40 million over the next four years and in the face of rising utility prices I welcome another initiative to assist rural households.”
“Following years of drought in the East Gippsland region, we have come to learn how precious our water supplies are and the need to be smarter with our water consumption and indentify solutions for better managing the water we have.
“Those households who install a rainwater tank or purchase water efficient appliances will make great savings, with up to $1000 being available to those households who install rainwater tanks that are designed and manufactured to Australian standards and are connected to a house’s toilet and laundry.
“For the first time, rebates for water-efficient products will also be made available to help all Victorians, including those on non-reticulated systems, to become more water conscious and efficient throughout their homes and gardens.
“A rebate of $200 will be introduced for the first time on the cost of pool covers and the Coalition Government had also made rebates available on a new range of appliances including $150 rebate towards washing machines, one of the biggest water users in homes,” said Mr Bull.
For more information about what rebates are available under the “Living Victoria Water Rebate Program”, contact your local water authority or visit www.water.vic.gov.au/rebates.
Safer travel for East Gippslanders
Travelling on public transport at night will be safer under the Victorian Coalition Government’s promise to deploy 940 Protective Services Officers (PSOs) on all metropolitan and major regional train stations from 6pm until the last train, every day of the year, said member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull.
“The new laws being introduced into the Victorian Parliament this week will make travel much safer for those from the country visiting the city.
“The PSO’s will be present at Traralgon, other major regional townships and metropolitan stations, so those from the country can be sure they will be safer when heading to the city.
“I am aware many country folk have at times felt on edge when travelling the public transport system at night and this will assist with the removal of anti-social behaviour.
“Only recently I was approached about a group of youths using inappropriate language on the ‘Gippslander’ on the trip from Melbourne. In future these people will be held accountable for their actions.
“I used this very example in a meeting with the Deputy Premier Peter Ryan and he said where there is a reasonable belief of inappropriate behaviour and if the PSO witnesses this, or is approached by passengers complaining, action can be taken.
“Although PSOs won’t have all the powers police have, this legislation will ensure they are able to assist Victorian Police by having the power to apprehend, detain, arrest, remove or impede any offenders or threatening individuals,” Mr Bull said.
“This is part of the Coalition commitment to crack down on crime and anti-social behaviour and is one of a number of measures this government has already taken along this path.”
“By providing $212 million to recruit and train 940 PSOs by November 2014, the Protective Services Officers Bill 2011 will give PSOs the powers they need to reduce crime, violence and anti-social behaviour in and around train stations.
“People from East Gippsland have the right to feel safe not only when travelling on regional rail services, but also when boarding or alighting at metropolitan stations,” Mr Bull said.
“PSOs will continue to undertake the same Operational Tactics and Safety (OTS) training as police, which included the same firearms training and defensive skills training, and that refresher OTS training would be required every six months.”
Minister for Police & Emergency Services, Peter Ryan, said “the deployment of PSOs will be determined by Police Command in consultation with the Department of Justice, the Department of Transport and the Coalition Government.”
“Victoria Police will be able to take into consideration operational requirements and, in consultation with relevant authorities, deploy two PSOs to each railway station across the metropolitan area and at major regional centres.”
Bonus for first home buyers
The Victorian Coalition Government is delivering on its commitment to make purchasing a new home more affordable for first home buyers, young farmers, pensioners and concession card holders and self funded retirees, said Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull today.
The Coalition Government is delivering the keys for first home buyers who have been increasingly priced out of the home buyers market over recent years due to increasing property prices and cost of living pressures, with a number of measures announced by the Treasurer, Kim Wells, this week.
On contracts settled from 1 July, the Coalition Government will cut stamp duty by 20 percent for eligible home buyers and will progressively increase this cut to 30 percent from 1 January 2013, 40 percent from 1 January 2014, and 50 percent by September 2014.
“The Coalition Government understands how long it takes to save up for your first home and that massive stamp duty taxes are often the difference between the excitement of making a successful bid and the disappointment of being locked out of the property market,” Mr Bull said.
“I am also especially pleased with the announcement that there will be stamp duty assistance for young farmers buying their first farm, with the government actively encouraging young men and women to pursue a career in food and fibre production.
“For contracts entered into from 1 July, young farmers aged under 35 who buy their first farmland property valued up to $300,000 will be exempt from paying stamp duty and young farmers will also be entitled to a concession for farmland properties valued between $300,000 and $400,000.”
The Coalition Government will also continue the existing First Home Owner Grant and Bonuses for new homes and eligible first home buyers, purchasing homes worth up to $600,000, will be eligible for $13,000 if they purchase a new home in metropolitan Melbourne and $19,500 if they purchase a new home in regional Victoria. This is in addition to the $7,000 available under the First Home Owner Grant for homes worth up to $750,000.
Mr Bull said, the Coalition Government recognises the difficulty pensioners, concession cardholders and self-funded retirees face when purchasing a suitable property, especially when they may wish to downsize to a smaller home, yet cannot afford the stamp duty costs.”
The Coalition Government will increase the pensioners and concession cardholders stamp duty concession threshold from $440,000 to $750,000 for contracts entered into from 1 July, 2011.
Pensioners and concession cardholders will be entitled to a full exemption for properties valued up to $330,000 and a concession will be available for properties valued between $330,000 and $750,000.
Currently pensioners buying property valued above $440,000 receive no benefit at all.
“For the first time, self-funded retirees who hold a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card will also be eligible for these concessions,” Mr Bull said.